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I’m joining Skift

I’m thrilled to say that I’m joining Skift as travel tech editor. You can email me here.

How I got here:

Since 2010, I’ve been full-time covering the travel technology sector. I’ve interviewing hundreds of top executives and entrepreneurs. My trade scoops have been name-checked/referenced by The New York Times (link), Bloomberg News (example), and other major outlets.

Between July 2015 and January 2017 I was editor-in-chief of Tnooz, a trade news brand that covers B2B travel technology. Some highlights:

—Broke news that moves public stock prices, such as a story about Orbitz being put up for sale and China’s state-owned GDS making its first western tech vendor acquisition (my story beat the announcement).
—Did enterprise reporting, such as my early 2016 report on Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising arm of the OTA giant, where I was the first to predict the strategy changes now taking place.
—Rapidly and creatively summarized and curated news, such as about the bizarre death of Unister’s CEO. Pieces were highly commented on, like my report on Homeaways’s changed fee structure that drew hundreds of responses.
—Interviewed hundreds of top players in the industry, from the CEO of Expedia to the new CMO of
—Was first to identify key industry trends, like the major OTAs getting into providing B2B hotel services.
—Led an editorial team that produces original reporting and analysis on the core technology products, vendors, and trends affecting travel distribution and marketing. Used analytics to inform strategy.
—Managed direct reports: two full-time, one part-time. Collectively publish 20 pieces of content a week.
—Represented our brand at events, such as moderating a November 2016 panel I put together to discuss a report on distribution written by the London School of Economics and sponsored by Amadeus.
—Assigned and edited PDF reports on sector topics, such as revenue strategy for hotels. Seven titles. Plus, sponsored content reports, such as Sabre’s on mobility in travel.

Since 2010, I’ve had to balance living for stints in the UK and South Jersey. In London my partner pursued a PhD while in my hometown I’ve had family commitments. London is amazing, and it’s also a fantastic base for visiting other places.

I’ve put in my 10,000 hours learning to balance the nuances right while still simplifying for a broad audience. Still don’t always hit the mark at doing it conversationally and as briefly as possible, but I try my damnedest.

I got into this business by a couple of sideways moves. I started by writing how-to, consumer advice articles for Kiplinger’s magazine. My interests led me to specialize in advice for travel planning at Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine.

My effort at understanding how consumers can become better at trip planning led me to ask more and more questions about how the industry really works. I got hooked, and in 2012 began focusing full-time on the inner workings of the travel tech trade, freelancing for BBC Travel and Tnooz.

A couple of personal notes:

My mother immigrated to the US from Ireland, and she taught me early on that there are more perspectives than just the American one. I’ve tried to take this lesson to heart by traveling to as many places as I can. One of the reasons I’m thrilled to join Skift is that it has a similar worldview.

I became interested in covering technology partly because my father is a gadget head and the latest cool technology has always been something we’ve bonded over. Vendor tech is different from consumer tech, but I’ve got the same passion for it.

What I did before 2015

In late July 2015, I became the editor-in-chief of Tnooz, the trade publication.

I’ve been covering travel technology companies for Tnooz since 2012 as a part-time reporter.

You can e-mail me, here.

Between April and July, I also blogged near daily for’s news operation.

A year ago I re-located from London, where I had been an expat for four years, to New Jersey, where I have family and live with my domestic partner.

My scoops have been namechecked by The New York Times, Bloomberg News, and BusinessWeek.

Consumer editorial/personal service journalism

Between March 2011 and February 2014, I was a contributor to BBC Travel, mainly writing about travel technology. My February 2014 peek inside hotel design labs is fairly representative. My story on new sites for reselling unused trips came well ahead of the New York Times discovering the same trend.

Other places I’ve written for repeatedly include Condé Nast Traveler (US edition) and The New York Times website.

Between 2007 and 2010, I was the senior editor of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel. I founded its blog, with a travel news focus, which attracted up to 600,000 unique visitors a month. For the magazine, I wrote a handful of stories, such as about a road trip through Kentucky and “the half-dozen foreign car-rental fees to note“).

I’ve appeared on US national TV (NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, ABC) to discuss my stories more than 20 times, including on NBC Nightly News, twice. I’ve appeared a half-dozen times on Peter Greenberg’s national travel radio show and once on BBC World Service. I’ve done the occasional video, such as “How to rent a hybrid car“.


Before that, I was an associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine (where I wrote stories like “The 25 Best Travel Sites.”)

In those roles I launched two print columns (“The Lowdown” and “Worth Every Penny”).

My first journalism job was as a fact-checker for Foreign Policy magazine.

Over the years, I’ve also freelanced one-off pieces for the print editions of New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications.

I like social media. For a couple of years, I co-edited the official Twitter accounts for @BBC_Travel and @BudgetTravel, which has given me a better sense of why some headlines are widely shared.

If you made it this far, you may want to see a quick round-up of my “longread” journalism.

My travel tech trade news work, 2014 and 2015

I’ve written 800+ posts for trade news site Tnooz, where in July 2015 I became its editor-in-chief.

My scoops and articles have been widely read, with 9 of the 10 most-shared articles on Tnooz in the past year having been written by me, as verified by BuzzSumo.

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 18.58.07

I’m proudest of my following work:

Real scoops: not the rewriting press releases a few minutes faster

I was the first to report that Orbitz was up for sale and Expedia was a likely bidder. A week later, Bloomberg News followed. The next month a $1.6 billion deal was announced.

My article on Google starting to facilitate hotel booking transactions rather than hand customers off to other websites was the first in the media by days and was the week’s most-read article on Tnooz. An investment analyst said the news boosted the likelihood of regulatory approval of the Orbitz/Expedia merger.

I had a scoop on suspicious search engine optimization practices by some major online travel companies. The article was widely discussed in the industry. Google then penalized Expedia Inc in search rankings.

I was the first journalist to report on a French tribunal’s decision on Expedia’s contracts with hotels, even scooping Le Figaro.

I had the exclusive report in which US Airways explained their decision to drop the airline’s request for damages against Sabre from $73 million to $20.

I’ve had dozens of scoops on funding news, prior to official announcements, such as Hotel Urbano’s $50 million investment round.

In November 2014, I did an in-depth, in-person interview with Expedia’s CEO and with Joel Cutler, perhaps the most famous venture capitalist in travel.

Breaking news

I was the first to report — and first to report in-depth — that TripAdvisor bought Viator for $200 million and that TravelClick had sold for $930 million.

I broke the news that Sabre had set aside $500 million for an acquisition and had the first exhaustive report, based on months of research, of what that acquisition meant once it was made official.

Days prior to the planned announcement, I reported that HotelTonight was switching to a seven-day booking window.


My in-depth pieces have been widely cited in the industry. My article “Does the Expedia billboard effect still exist for hotels?” kickstarted an industry discussion. So did my breakdown of a study that found that, at upscale hotels, guest acquisition costs are devouring room revenue growth. So did my analysis of TripAdvisor’s pivotal new product that pivoted its revenue model.

Some important, in-depth articles I’ve reported are on how Expedia ads now trail you from desktop to mobile. I highlighted how the most cited third-party web analytics tool had suspect data, why OTAs and hotels feed each other fake data, and which online travel companies may be in violation of one US law.

Startup profiles
Many of the startups I’ve profiled were soon after acquired, such as Buuteeq by Priceline, RocketMiles by Priceline, and Pricematch by Priceline. I anticipated multiple investments by HomeAway in companies worldwide in the past year.

Work for Lonely Planet’s news operation

Since April 2015, I’ve been writing for I’ve been blogging on a nearly daily basis about travel news, such as “Bags that track themselves could be the end of lost luggage”, which airlines are trying flight auctions, and what’s behind the surprising boom in flash deals for hotels.

Highlights of my work

bbc hompeage travel tech


How Google Glass could ease air travel (This presaged by a few months Virgin’s pioneering test of the technology.)

New measures in airport security

Skip the hotel, stay in a horse A look at unusual lodging worldwide.

Think you can fly a jumbo jet? Try this new simulator in London


The most widely read of my articles in 2013 was: “Kayak adds price forecasts to US and UK fare search, saying it’s better than Bing Travel

My most commented-on article of 2013 was this: “Three years on from Google Panda, many travel sites struggle with traffic.”

My three most favorite Tnooz posts of 2013.

Two favorite interviews I learned so much from while doing:
A Q&A with Paul English, co-founder of Kayak and Adam Goldstein, CEO of Hipmunk

I’m proud of the many scoops I had on the European rail industry, in particular. I was first to report on Amadeus’s effort to integrate European rail data, on Loco2’s debut, on GoEuro’s funding round, and on Capitaine Train’s debut (well, at least first in English on that one).


What to do in London if you’re visiting as a cruisegoer


My more deeply reported pieces and narratives

I’ve done many deeply reported longreads. Some examples:

I explained how Expedia advertisements began to trail customers from desktop to mobile, in a ground-breaking marketing effort.

My May 2013 story on how an Accor executive had misused TripAdvisor ratings was cited by the New York Times

My reporting led to a major online travel agency, CheapOair, to disavow some dubious search engine optimisation practices.

I had another minor scoop here: Caught red-handed: Airbnb, TripVillas, and the curious case of a rogue spammer.

I also revealed how one US company had (mis-)handled a revelation by an ethical hacker of a security vulnerability in its payment process, which I was the first journalist to report on and which was a flaw affecting multiple companies.

A few years ago, I filed a US Freedom of Information Act request to find out what records the federal government had collected on me from my travels internationally. My travel dossier was picked up by several publications, like

I’ve been effective at generating off-diary stories. For instance, earlier this year, I wrote about a proposed switch by airlines worldwide from running their reservations systems on a 40-year-old programming language called Edifact to more modern XML-based languages. I interviewed sources over two months and subsequently produced a series of in-depth reports on the topic, like this summary and this set of screenshots.

Startup coverage is something I excel at, and I have reviewed dozens of startups for various publications. For Tnooz, I recently dug in to what happened to a Bulgarian-based business-to-business travel technology startup called Everbread, which had collected millions in venture capital funding but managed to disappear off of the industry’s radar.

I have many industry contacts, and they supply useful story leads. I was the first to report in July on a new consortium to create a pan-European booking tool for multi-modal transport. For instance, by cultivating contacts within Loco2, a UK rail-ticketing startup, I was the first reporter to publish a story about the Guardian’s decision to hire the company as a white-label provider for its Guardian Trains tool.

An earlier piece by me on the rise of peer-to-peer car hire schemes in the US was published in print and online by the New York Times.

I’m agnostic on storytelling formats. I’ve used six-second .gif files to explain the replacement of postcards with Vines, and I’ve produced a couple of videos and dozens of slide shows.

These heavily reported, “investigative” pieces supplement my main bread-and-butter work, which has been reviewing technology products and services for consumers, which I’ve honed since 2007, when I did a in-person factory visit at Blue Nile, the first online retailer of diamond rings, to my current regular gig reviewing consumer tools and websites for — where I’ve written 20 reviews in 2013 to mid-year.

My April, May, and June journalism

BBC Travel

[The following links aren’t viewable to UK residents because of BBC rules. Sorry.]


Highlights of my January through March 2013 journalism

BBC Travel
[The following links aren’t viewable to UK residents because of BBC rules.]


Condé Nast Traveler


Links for 2012

A list of my writing in 2012.

Condé Nast Traveler (US edition) 

[The following links aren’t viewable to UK residents because of BBC rules. Sorry.]



A few short pieces:


In July 2012 I joined as a part-time reporter for this pub, which is the number-one most read news blog in the travel trade.

My most read post in 2012 was iPhone5 – new maps, Passbook comes front and center, and more
My post that received the most comments was: What are the best cities around the world for travel tech startups?
Story I’m proudest of: After early hype and a quiet year, Everbread says it has something baking in Singapore
See the full list of my Tnooz posts, here.


I was a guest talking about the pocket wi-fi story for BBC Travel on Peter Greenberg’s national US radio show (at the 12-minute mark) in December 2012, as well as earlier in April 2012, when we did a radio show on the Eurostar between London and Paris.

At the end of the week of tweeting travel news links for the @BBC_Travel account under the #bbcinbrief hashtag, I occasionally summarize the best tweets at BBC Travel.
For Budget Travel, I did a monthly Q&A under the hashtag #askBT.

11 Surprisingly Lovable Airlines which was also featured on
15 More Places Every Kid Should See Before 15 (1,500+ likes)

Full list at my page on Budget Travel’s website
Some of my posts were re-published by, including:
New Viator website offers cheaper shore excursions for cruisersMySeatFinder fetches you a better seat automatically.

This summer, I ran around town taking photos of London during the 2012 Games (Flickr) for BBC Travel’s Olym-pix slide show.


2011 writing highlights

I wrote 18 feature stories this year for, the website of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine in the US. One piece that CNN re-published — 8 Foreign Fast-Food Chains Worth a Taste — received more than 7,000+ Facebook “likes”. A piece re-published on Yahoo, World’s Prettiest Castle Towns, drew 2,500 likes.

I did 169 travel-themed posts for BudgetTravel’s blog.

MSNBC republished 18 of these, including “Travel tips for Android and iPhone users.”

I’ve been freelancing for’s blog since its first day in March 2011. In June, I became the site’s tech travel columnist. Here’s a typical one of my weekly pieces: “The best photo-sharing and storage sites

Since July 2011, I’m the London guides editor for and its app, writing (and editing) about the city’s newest cool spots.

This year, I’ve also done some writing for The New York Times‘s In Transit blog, with posts such as “Plane or Train? Sites to Help You Decide,” Expedia Offers Free Room Upgrades for Top Customers, and “In Bay Area, New Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Offers.”

I wrote a bunch of city guides for the redesigned, such as for New York City and Dublin. I did a brief stint at AOL Travel News: and I wrote a handful of stories for

Social media: All year, I’ve done a monthly afternoon Q&A chat on with Twitter users via the @budgettravel account. Since the fall, I’ve tweeted travel-related news links in the mornings every third week on @BBC_Travel. You can find my personal account at @sean_oneill.

Before moving to London, I was the senior editor of in New York City for three years. For details, click here.

My work in 2011 – Full list

I wrote the following travel stories this year, with the help of talented editors.

For Budget Travel and elsewhere:

8 Foreign Fast-Food Chains Worth a Taste (; 6,000+ Facebook likes)
World’s Prettiest Castle Towns (Yahoo; 2,000 likes)

10 Gorgeous Pools You Won’t Believe Are Public (
Top Travel News of 2011 (Yahoo)
8 Common Air Travel Snafus And How to Beat Them (CNN)
How to Score Tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympics (

World’s Most Amazing Hotel Pools (co-authored; Yahoo!,CNN)
25 Most Photographed Places on Earth (
10 Best Beachfront Hotels For Under $150 a Night (Bing/MSN)

North America’s Most Charming Fall Islands 2011 (
8 Items You Never Pack…But Should (
6 Foreign Car-Rental Fees to Watch for (Oct. 2011, print edition; CNN)
The Problem Solvers: Four New Online Travel Tools (print edition, Mar. 2011)

Top 10 Most Shocking Mummies in the World (
Top 10 Beaches From the Movies
Quiz: Think You Know the National Parks?
20 Spectacular Carnival Celebrations

I’ve been freelancing for’s blog since its first day in March 2011. As of June, I’m also the site’s tech travel columnist. Some representative posts:

Booking holiday rentals gets easier
Five favourite travel apps of 2011
The best photo-sharing and storage sites
Maps that give more than directions
Tools that (almost) make travel easier
Small victories in the war against lost luggage

Gift guide 2011: Europe
Teleport yourself via new image search apps
Better tools for making friends with like-minded travellers
An analysis of Google’s travel plans

Rent an electric bike in London
Compact cameras add GPS
Is your airline any good?
The future of travel search
Must-have apps for looking like a local

Tech tools for surviving travel emergencies
Top picks for portable entertainment
New developments in making calls overseas affordable
3D audio may revolutionise travel
Tools to plan your itinerary faster
Taxi apps get into gear
Best tools to track travel rewards
Google’s new travel plans
New photo-driven websites can inspire travel

Since July 2011, I’m the London guides editor for and its app, writing (and editing) about the city’s newest cool spots. has re-published many of my Budget Travel blog posts:

Zipcar is driving competition in rental cars
Wendy’s goes gourmet in Japan
Some cruise lines take the ‘all’ out of ‘all-inclusive’
How to avoid flights that may get canceled
The 5 smartest vacation photos you’ve never taken
Open secret websites for booking hotels
Travel tips for Android and iPhone users
Electric bike rentals smooth out sightseeing
How to spruce up a vacation rental
5 ways to keep your cords tidy, organized
In Britain, paying to skip long security lines
New Site TripAlertz Is Groupon for Travel
Get discounted travel by buying gift cards
Know these mind games for a better vacation
4 trip-planning services often overlooked
Talking travel on Facebook can invite dilemmas
Is Legoland Florida worth the cost?
5 surprising foreign laws that put travelers at risk

This year, I’ve also done some writing for The New York Times‘s In Transit blog, with posts such as “Plane or Train? Sites to Help You Decide,” Expedia Offers Free Room Upgrades for Top Customers, and “In Bay Area, New Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Offers.”

I wrote a bunch of city guides for the redesigned, such as for New York City and Dublin. I did a brief stint at AOL Travel News: In-Flight Movies Could Go 3D, Visit PBS’s Downton Abbey on Your Own, and other posts. I also did a brief stint at included such mini-features as How to Avoid Being Pickpocketed While Traveling and Credit Card Rewards: Hidden Bonuses in Your Pocket.

I did a piece for AARP, the first one I’ve ever seen on “gay senior travel,” titled “5 LGBT-Friendly Vacations.”

Social media:
I do a monthly afternoon Q&A on with Twitter users via the @budgettravel account. Personally, traction for my recent work includes Lisbon becomes an even more lovely bargain (150+ Facebook likes) and Should we tip flight attendants? (125 Facebook likes).

Fun features
Gorked. PFO. Jabs. — I tried to humorously explain British medical lingo for BBC America’s Anglophenia blog (timed to coincide with the new TV documentary series 24 Hours in the ER). I also wrote a round-up of interviews with working class Londoners in the aftermath of the summer 2011 riots.

Media appearances:
In April, I did a stint on the royal wedding for CNBC. This year, I was also a guest on the Peter Greenberg US travel radio show in April 2011 and August 2011; and on the This Week in Travel podcast in May 2011. Since I moved to London, I’ve done live media hits on behalf of Budget Travel at ITV studios for MSNBC, Fox News, and NBC Nightly News. In July I was interviewed about my editing and freelancing experiences by Travel Writing 2.0.

I’ve done ghost-writing and I’ve edited annual reports for non-travel commercial clients, mostly related to tech start-ups. I’ve also done some advertorial for the promotion of a few TV shows. I keep that work separate from my travel editorial work. Details on request.

Press trip policy
I have never taken any press trips, media discounts, or free gifts of travel gear intended for review, etc. I’ve been lucky enough to have steady editorial work every since I graduated from university. I don’t look down on people who have accepted rewards from travel companies they report on; in the UK, for example, it’s a standard practice; it’s just something I haven’t done.

For the short version, you’re better off clicking on the “About Sean” page.

Updated 1 December 2011.